CLEVELAND — The Indians have work to do on their postseason push, and no games left against their favorite pushovers.
Mike Clevinger pitched six shutdown innings, Franmil Reyes homered in his return to the lineup and Cleveland moved into a tie for the second AL wild card with a 7-0 win over the Tigers on Thursday night. It was the Indians’ 17th consecutive win against Detroit this season.
Cleveland matched Tampa Bay at 90-63 with the Rays idle. Both teams trail Oakland by two games for the top spot. The Indians remained four games behind Minnesota in the AL Central.
“It’s not enough,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We need more. I don’t know how many more, but I’m guessing we’ll need several more.”
The Indians matched a franchise record for consecutive wins against a team in a season — they also won 17 straight over Baltimore in 1954. Cleveland won 18 of 19 versus Detroit in the season series and outscored the Tigers 116-38.
“They have definitely had our number,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s an understatement. It’s not easy getting knocked around a little bit.”
Clevinger needed 33 pitches to get through a messy first inning. Harold Castro and Miguel Cabrera singled with one out and Jeimer Candelario drew a two-out walk, but Jordy Mercer flied out on a 3-2 pitch.
The right-hander allowed seven hits and struck out six. He is 11-1 with a 1.89 ERA over his last 15 starts.
“We won a game, but we’ve got to win every game right now,” Clevinger said. “So, that’s the way we’re looking at it going into each day.”
Reyes, who missed two games for personal reasons, hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Drew VerHagen. Reyes has 35 homers this season, including eight for the Indians since being acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline.
Yasiel Puig was 9 for 14 in the series and had an RBI double in the fourth. Roberto Pérez drove in two runs with a single in the fifth, and Carlos Santana and Oscar Mercado each had an RBI.
Starter Daniel Norris (3-13) allowed one run in three innings for the Tigers, who have the worst record in baseball at 45-107. Detroit set a record for its longest losing streak against an opponent. The Tigers dropped 16 in a row to Minnesota from 2002-03.
The shutout was the 15th by Cleveland this season, and Detroit was blanked for the 14th time.
GETTING HIS SWINGS
Indians third baseman José Ramírez took batting practice Thursday for the first time since breaking his right hand last month. He had surgery Aug. 26. He’s pushing to return before the regular season finale Sept. 29.
LATE NIGHT VIEWING
Francona is keeping track of the other playoff contenders, but not in the most direct way.
He said he’s binge-watching the television show Madam Secretary at home after games. Francona was also watching Wednesday night’s game between Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Dodgers on his phone. The Rays tied it in the ninth against closer Kenley Jansen and won in 11 innings.
“I fell asleep and it was the ninth inning and Tampa had nobody on with one out,” Francona said. “I woke up and I checked my phone and I was like, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ So, yeah, that was a long convoluted way of saying that I pay attention.”
LOOK IT UP
Detroit’s only win against Cleveland came at Comerica Park on April 8 in a 4-1 victory. Matthew Boyd was the winning pitcher, and Niko Goodrum and John Hicks homered off since-traded Trevor Bauer, who got the loss.
Tigers: Candelario started for the first time since Monday after being out with bruised right triceps.
Indians: LHP Brad Hand played catch Thursday and will be evaluated by the training staff to determine the next step as he deals with a tired arm. He hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 8.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-11, 6.32 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night at Comerica Park. RHP Dylan Cease (3-7, 6.18 ERA) will start for Chicago.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (14-7, 3.26 ERA) will pitch in the opener of a three-game series against Philadelphia on Friday night. LHP Drew Smyly (4-6, 6.22 ERA) will start for the Phillies, who are in contention for an NL wild card spot.